Chicano/Chicana •  Journalism and Latin America

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Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration

Sam Quinones

Sam Quinones's first book, True Tales From Another Mexico, was acclaimed for the way it peered into the corners of that country for its larger truths and complexities. Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream, Quinones's second collection of nonfiction tales, does the same for one of the most important issues of our times: the migration of Mexicans to the United States.

Quinones has covered the world of Mexican immigrants for the last thirteen years--from Chicago to Oaxaca, Michoacan to southeast Los Angeles, Tijuana to Texas. Along the way, he has uncovered stories that help illuminate all that Mexicans seek when they come north, how they change their new country, and are changed by it.

Here are the stories of the Henry Ford of velvet painting in Ciudad Juarez, the emergence of opera in Tijuana, the bizarre goings-on in the L.A. suburb of South Gate, and of the drug-addled colonies of Old World German Mennonites in Chihuahua. Through it all winds the tale of Delfino Juarez, a young construction worker, and modern-day Huckleberry Finn, who had to leave his village to change it.

"Sam Quinones is a border legend. For those in the know, his reportage has been cause for celebration. Now, with Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream he takes us behind the lines and undercover. He puts a human face on 'illegal
immigration' and he gives us stunning stories of survival and dread. However, he accomplishes something more valuable than a mere parade of sensational set pieces--Quinones starts to put the complex issues in the light of understanding and hard-won wisdom."--Luis A. Urrea, author of The Devil's Highway and The Hummingbird's Daughter

"Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream is journalism that doesn't replay or expand on the clich├ęd or stereotyped stories of the exotic border, of mystical or threatening mejicanos. Genuinely original work, what great fiction and nonfiction aspire to be, these are stories that stop time and remind us how great reading is."--Dagoberto Gilb, author of Hecho en Tejas

Sam also teaches a writing workshop -- TELL YOUR TRUE TALE -- based on his books and career as a writer of narrative nonfiction. Check out his storytelling experiment of the same name at his website:


Sam Quinones lived in Mexico for ten years writing freelance for a variety of U.S. publications. In 1998 he was a recipient of the Alicia Patterson Fellowship. In 2001 he published a highly acclaimed collection of stories about contemporary Mexico, True Tales from Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino, and the Bronx (UNM Press). He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Sheila, and daughter, Kate, and is a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. He can be contacted through


". . . a keen look at the migrant economy . . . (in) nine skillful, moving stories. Quinones layers with the sociological, economic, and historical context of 60 years of immigration . . . (in these) very fine pieces of literary journalism."


Publishers Weekly, starred review

". . . journalism that doesn't replay or expand on the cliched or stereotyped stories of the exotic border . . . Genuinely original work. . . ."


San Francisco Chronicle

"Where others see unremarkable immigrants, Quinones finds gold . . . he has filed the best dispatches about Mexican migration and its effects on the United States and Mexico, bar none."


Los Angeles Times

"Quinones' book humanizes a political issue that has become sloganized into meaninglessness . . . (he)delves deeply and with rich and illustrative detail into the cultural ramifications of our shaky borders."


Santa Fe Reporter

"This book humanizes the immigration issue . . . by focusing on in-depth profiles of migrants on both sides of the border and telling their tales with empathy and a novelist's eye for character, narrative structure, and psychological detail."


Bloomsbury Review

"The strength of Quinones' collection of stories rests in his ability to blur stories of departure and settlement...The accessibility of these 'true tales'...make Quinones' monograph ideally suited for undergraduate classes in borderlands, US West, and California history."


Southern California Quarterly

"Sam Quinones has a remarkable ability to put a human face on the controversial issue of immigration..."


Magill's Literary Annual 2008

"( Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream) is an exclamation point in Quinones' career and solidifies its author's membership in an elite fraternity of border journalists....Quinones presents the matter with skill and insight refreshing to even the most migration-calloused ears."


Texas Observer

"Quinones approaches (Mexican immigration) with his eyes and ears open and with his mind not already made up. He reports the actual lives of people so they become something larger and more fascinating than theory."


New Mexico Historical Review

" engaging book in which biographies of individuals are skillfully assembled to provide a revealing look at political, economic and social change in Mexico and in Mexican communities in the United States."


Journal of Latin American Studies

"Sam Quinones has produced a sublime collection. . . . Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream (is) must reading for anyone seriously interested in the issue of immigration."



"This book illuminates individual lives in a historic movement and muses on the nature of the movement . . . scrupulously researched . . . infused with life and spirit and affection . . . Quinones is a hell of a storyteller."


Tucson Weekly

"(Quinones') gift for storytelling brings the Mexican mindset to life and provides important cultural and economic context . . . the rich picture evoked overall is fascinating."


Library Journal

6 x 9 in. 328 pages 15 halftones, 1 maps